Five Frugal Things

by Katy on July 18, 2016 · 75 comments

plant

  1. I took some rosemary and spider plant babies that I’d been rooting and planted them in a crock that I’d pulled from a free pile. The rosemary was from a neighbor’s bush, the spider plants were from a prolific plant at my father’s house and the soil was from a chipped terra cotta pot that someone had put out in front of their house. It’ll live on my porch as my cats enjoy eating spider plants.
  2. My younger son and I went an hour early to pick up my older son from work, which allowed us the time to walk around the park and hunt for Pokémon. Healthy quality time without any expense.
  3. I’ve been very uninspired with meal planning lately, but I did assemble a pan of baked ziti last night. I used leftover marinara sauce, pasta and a can of tomatoes from the pantry, two sprouting onions, cheese we already had and a half-pound of spicy bulk sausage from New Seasons. Not your average summer meal, but it was gobbled up and so nice to sit around the dining room table with the family. I’ll make pizzas tonight using the last of the sauce.
  4. I updated my Every Dollar budget this morning and remembered that December and July are the months when we pay our next door neighbor for our half of the garbage bill. We split a single pickup which saves us both $168 per year.
  5. I put together a listing to sell a Queen Bee messenger bag/purse that I picked up for $10 from a consignment shop. These popular bags sell new for $168, so I’m pretty sure I can get $40 for it.

Now your turn. What frugal things have you been up to?

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

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Five Frugal Things

by Katy on July 16, 2016 · 66 comments

  1. My mother, younger son and I went thrifting yesterday, which was a success as I scored this enormous $14 bag of American Girl brand clothing and accessories that were in perfect condition. I also bought a $7 “Molly” doll, and I’ll sell the lot through an eBay listing that starts tomorrow. My son scored a new looking Levi’s jean jacket, which is what he was looking for.

Bag o clothes

Now, the clothes are all photographed and ready to be sold!

American Girl collage2. I dropped a couple of things at the consignment shop near my house and came away with $3.60.

3. I wrote up and submitted another Clark Howard article. I have two more assigned pieces, and will try to get at least one of them written before the end of the weekend.

4. My son and I walked to the grocery store and I found two pennies and a dime on the ground. Also, a Pidgie, because . . . #PokemonGo.

5. I didn’t buy a Lear Jet.

Now your turn. What frugal things have you been up to?

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

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Non-Consumer Photo Essay

by Katy on July 15, 2016 · 22 comments

Found money from one of my mother’s guest cottages:

free money

A free vintage shelf that I’ll clean up for resale. I’m thinking it would be perfect as a TV stand.

free shelf

A $7.99 campaign dresser style dresser from Goodwill that I should have bought as a painting project. Seriously, look at all these great painted campaign dresser ideas!

campaign dresser

A targeted savings banks that was new to me.

vet bills

A bag of towels that will now accompany my son off to college.

goodwill towels

Frugal stuff and money making opportunities, they’re out there people!

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

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Five Frugal Things

by Katy on July 14, 2016 · 75 comments

Little ZigZag River

  1. I was able to find a bag of brand new towels at Goodwill for $6.99 today. With two hand towels and two bath towels, it’s exactly what my younger son will need to bring with him to college this fall.
  2. I passed a house this evening that had put out a large amount of free stuff, and was able to bring home a ream of high quality paper as well as a dish display shelf with cute midcentury styling. I popped it into the back of the Prius and will clean it up to sell.
  3. I sold my thrifted Sasha doll and then attended a four hour meeting at work yesterday. #collegefund
  4. I spent the day with my younger son up on Mt. Hood today, which was quite frugal as we hung out at my father’s cabin and didn’t eat in any restaurants.
  5. A co-worker gave me a pair of almost new Danskos that didn’t fit her quite right. They fit me and will be put to good use.

Now your turn. What frugal things have you been up to?

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

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This post first appeared over at ClarkHoward.com.

When you shop at a traditional retailer such as Target or Macy’s, you already have a pretty good idea what you’re going to find in the store. Clothing? Check. Housewares? Check. Luggage? Check.

Such is not the case when shopping at a Goodwill or other thrift stores. Sure, you’ll find clothing, housewares and luggage, but if you’re lucky you just might stumble upon the rare or unusual. And occasionally you might even happen upon the truly bizarre or disgusting.

For example, you might be tempted to put this preowned whip into your shopping cart:
Goodwill whip
Of course, not all thrift store merchandise is quite so fifty shades of cringeworthy. Sometimes it’s nothing more than an unfortunate craft project, like these glued together dishes featuring hideous florist marble details. It’s times like this that you wish some responsible citizen had stepped forward to instruct the crafter to “step away from the hot glue gun!”
florist marble dishes
Not the crafty type? Then maybe this cremated cat is more your style. And before you ask if this is an actual cremated cat, let me share that I did indeed shake the box and yes, it really did sound exactly like it was full of feline ash and bone fragments.
Poor kitty.
Cremated cat
Cremated remains, both feline and human are not an uncommon donation according to Dale Emanuel, public relations manager for Goodwill Industries of the Columbia Willamette. Citing that Goodwill receives “lots of urns,” as well as dentures, artificial limbs and even a human skull once, although it was marked “for scientific purposes.”
Yeesh!
Before you start thinking that your local thrift store offers nothing more than the morbid and tacky, let me point out the endless stories of people who’ve scored priceless treasures for pennies on the dollar. Like this man who resold a $5.99 Goodwill watch for $35,000 or this woman who sold a $9.99 painting for $27,000! Even Good Morning America’s Lara Spencer found a pair of original Picasso etchings at her Salvation Army for a mere $35!
Luckily, most of the truly bizarre and disgusting donations get caught before they’re priced and out on the floor. And certain categories of donations even get routed to where they can be best used or disposed of properly, such as taxidermic animals to wildlife education centers or flags to the American Legion.
I enjoy the thrill of the hunt when it comes to thrift store shopping. Whether it’s bargains on the necessities for my home, or that elusive million dollar painting, I’ll continue to thrift for my needs. After all, you never know if your next big score is hiding between a whip and a cremated cat!
Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

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It’s Okay to be Cheap!

by Katy on July 10, 2016 · 21 comments

The following is a reprint of a previously published post. Enjoy!

Happy Birthday!

The word “cheap” gets a bad rap. It’s grouped in with “miserly” and is rarely used as a compliment.

“Wow, that awesome lady sure is cheap!”

Nope.

I used to try and distance myself from the word, saying that I preferred “frugal,” but the plain and honest truth is that I am cheap.

Cheap, cheap, cheap!

I don’t like to spend unnecessarily, and I prioritize having enough money to pay my bills. I don’t want to work more than part time, and if you ever see me in a retail store, you’ll know that I’m being held prisoner.

Cheap.

But I make zero apologies for my cheapness. Because without my focus on the nickels and dimes in life, my family would be in serious financial trouble. I do not owe the world an outward appearance of wealth, and I’m comfortable making cheap decisions, even when that cheap version is slightly less desirable.

Need an example?

Tomorrow is my older son’s nineteenth birthday. Because the actual day falls on a Tuesday this year, we spent yesterday, (a Sunday) celebrating him. We have a family tradition where I plan a “Birthday Day of Adventures,” and the four of us spend the entire day going from activity to activity that caters to the birthday person’s specific tastes. It’s all a surprise ahead of time, and it’s an extremely fun way of making the birthday person feel special. (It’s part of how I’m transitioning my kids from gifts of things to gifts of experiences.)

But since I’m the one doing the planning, it veers towards the cheap. I take full advantage of available discounts, and I hoard any credits I’ve accrued throughout the year.

I decided one of our activities would be to see a movie. My first thought was Guardians of The Galaxy, as I knew he’d enjoy it. However, it’s still only in first run theaters which would set us back $36 for tickets, plus the cost of parking. (It would have been a downtown theater.) Instead I found a showing of the movie Chef at a great old refurbished theater which cost only $2 per person, (plus the parking was free!)

I chose to be cheap.

Would my son have liked to see Guardians of The Galaxy? Sure. But it’s mindless Hollywood entertainment that’s great fun while it’s happening yet completely leaves your mind by the time you’re home. Plus it’ll be in second run theaters and on DVD within a month or so. I figured he would like Chef, even though he’d never heard of it.

Guess what? My son really enjoyed Chef. He liked that it wasn’t yet another formulaic Hollywood blockbuster with nothing to offer beyond mindless entertainment. He values having stuff to ponder, and he’s old enough to understand that the $40 we saved by seeing a second run movie completely covered the cost of the Indian buffet lunch we’d just consumed.

It was a cheap decision, but it was the right decision.

When we spend beyond what we can afford, it’s the same as admitting that there’s shame and embarrassment of living within a budget. No one should make you feel bad about staying out of debt. Period. Living beyond your means in the here and now robs your future self.

Do you feel bad about being cheap when it’s all that you can afford? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

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Five Frugal Things

by Katy on July 8, 2016 · 85 comments

Retirement banks

  1. I sold my Goodwill table for $135, which is not too shabby since I picked it up for $24. It took a few days of e-mailing back and forth, but mostly because I worked long 12-hour shifts on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.
  2. I stopped by one of my mother’s guest cottages yesterday to her help finish cleaning between tenants. I didn’t get paid, but I did bring home two bags of groceries which included an untouched mini marionberry pie, orange juice, milk, bread, ice cream, peanut butter, jam, creamer and a power bar.
  3. My husband forgot to bring his packed lunch to work last night. Instead of buying lunch, he came home around midnight to pick it up. (The poor guy work 5 P.M. to 5 A.M.)
  4. My older son and I stopped at Goodwill, although I didn’t buy anything. However, I did spy a few 0f my favorite targeted savings banks. I’ve come across this elderly couple at least five or six times through the years. I kind of wish I’d been buying them all along as I think they’d look cool all lined up together on a shelf. Buying nothing? 100% savings!
  5. My fancy thrifted Lane recliner was kind of wobbly, so I turned it upside down and found that it was missing three bolts. I took one out and proceeded to have the hardware store match it. I spent a grand total of $1.80, and now the chair no longer wobbles. Not a bad investment, especially since it would have cost $775 to buy a new version of this chair.

Now your turn. What frugal things have you been up to?

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

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Five Frugal Things

by Katy on July 5, 2016 · 60 comments

Sasha eBay

  1. I worked the last two days, plus work tomorrow at the hospital. I’ve brought my own lunches, and enjoyed the free free coffee and tea. Monday was time-and-a-half, (yeah, baby!) which will inflate my next paycheck to something special. July is a three paycheck month, so I’m hoping to sock away as much money as possible towards September’s double college tuition payments. My sister will be visiting Portland during the second half of August, and I plan to take that time off from RN work.
  2. My Sasha doll eBay listing went live. No bids yet, but lots of views, so I’m crossing my fingers. I also have a woman who has been e-mailing about my antique oak pedestal table. I submitted another Clark Howard article, plus have another one in the works.
  3. My husband seems to be doing better about making dinner from scratch on days that I work.
  4. I took care of my mother’s guest cottages whiles she was out of town. One tenant needed a vacuum cleaner. Instead of buying her one, I brought her mine to use until my mother can set her up with one from her basement.
  5. I didn’t buy a Lear Jet.

Now your turn. What frugal things have you been up to?

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

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The following blog post first appeared over at Clark Howard.com.

souvenirs-1

Souvenirs are an interesting purchase category. They function to demonstrate that you traveled to a certain area, as well as to prompt your memories. They’re also for gift giving, a memento to show that you thought of loved ones at home while out traveling the world.

Unfortunately, they often veer towards pointless doo-dads stamped with the name of wherever you happened to have visited. Went to Florida? Here’s a thimble stamped with the word “Florida.” And guess what? That dust collector was probably manufactured halfway around the world! The problem is that while it’s fun to browse through souvenir shops, your purchases can quickly become useless clutter once you get back home.

Here are five great souvenir ideas that won’t have you staring at your purchases and wondering whether you underwent a brain transplant while traveling.

Regional foods

Whether you’re buying Alaskan canned salmon, Belgian chocolate or Louisiana hot sauce, it’s a smarter purchase than that enormous clunky wooden shoe from your great aunt Ethel’s trip to Holland. Tasty treats have the culinary power to remind you of your delicious vacation, without becoming a unwelcome knick-knack that’s doomed for the Goodwill donation box. Plus, it’s perfect as gifts as everyone loves food!

Things you actually need

Shopping while on vacation is an opportunity to pick up a thing or two with practical purpose. An example would be a kitchen utensil or high quality pen. Not only would they easily fit into your suitcase, but they can actually become a welcome part of your daily routine once home. Perhaps even trigger that relaxing vacation mindset on an otherwise dull Wednesday afternoon.

Clothing

You may have bought clothing as a souvenir, but it was most likely an unflattering boxy T-shirt that proclaimed the name of your destination, something you probably never even wore again once your airplane deposited you back home. But clothing can actually be a wonderful souvenir, because it doesn’t need to advertise the name of the resort or beach town to remind you of your trip. Plus, whenever anyone asks “Where did you get that gorgeous top?” You’d have an opportunity to reply “This old thing? I picked it up in Paris.”

A splurge purchase

Vacations are an opportunity to spend in a way that you never would at home, and if you’ve saved your pennies ahead of time, it can be wonderfully guilt free. Your souvenir might be a foreign antique, a luxury scarf or even an indulgent meal in a four-star restaurant. Whatever you choose, you might discover that the temporary loosening of purse strings can be a special memory from your vacation.

Things for resale

I know that I’m wired differently from other spenders, but I like to browse thrift shops with an eye for resale while on vacation. I get the enjoyment of window shopping, but with the possibility of generating income to actually cover my vacation costs. With the eBay app on my phone, I scope out completed listings and use that information to decide whether or not to pull the trigger. (I just got back from a mini-vacation where I scored a $3.99 doll that I’ll soon list on eBay for $200, which should cover the entire cost of our motel!)

Conclusion

Who among us hasn’t come home from traveling and been baffled by the crap that we’ve felt impelled to buy as souvenirs. Whether it’s a big Mexican sombrero or a “I ♥ NY” snow globe, you can instead choose to bring home a souvenir that’s both practical and welcome as a gift. Be smart and deliberate with your money, even if you’re on vacation.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

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Five Frugal Things

by Katy on July 3, 2016 · 45 comments

Craigslist

  1. I cleaned one of my mother’s guest cottages last night and brought home two bags of their leftover food. This included eggs, potatoes, broccoli, beer, milk, almond milk, tequila, lemons, deli meat and cream cheese.
  2. I finally listed my thrifted Sasha doll on eBay, as well as my recently purchased antique oak table on Craigslist. The eBay listing doesn’t start until tonight, although the Craigslist one was immediate. No interest so far, but it only takes one interested buyer. I’ve found that it often takes a week or so to sell things through Craigslist, so it’s an opportunity to practice being patient.
  3. I was able to use my clotheslines yesterday, even though I didn’t get the laundry on the line until 2 P.M. It’s good to be windy!
  4. I work three days this week, which is an extremely rare occurrence for me. Sadly, the shifts are all back to back, which I already know is going to kill me. (I’m a labor and delivery nurse, which can be a very physical job.) However, I’ll get a super amazingly terrific great paycheck, especially since the 4th will be time-and-a-half, so I’m trying to focus on that.
  5. I didn’t buy a Lear Jet.

Now your turn. What frugal things have you been up to?

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

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